Many interventions that aim to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable people in low-income settings fail because the behaviour of the people intended to benefit is not well understood and /or not reflected in the design of interventions. Methods for understanding and situating human behaviour in the context of development interventions tend to emphasize experimental approaches to objectively isolate key drivers of behaviour. However, such methods often do not account for the importance of contextual factors and the wider system.

To develop the framework, the authors use three case studies conducted in Kenya and Zambia focusing on the uptake of new technologies and services by individuals and households. The cases demonstrate how the framework can be useful for mapping individuals’ experiences of a new technology or service and, based on this, the authors identify key parameters to support lasting behaviour change.

The framework reflects how behaviour change takes place in the context of complex social-ecological systems – where behaviours change over time in a non-linear way, and in which a diverse range of actors operate at different levels – and aims to support the design and delivery of more robust development-oriented interventions.